Royal Navy warship to sail through disputed sea off China - Defence Secretary

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It also commented on funding problems for the UK's defence, claiming due to a tight budget "it appears a hard mission for the Royal Navy to come all this way to provoke China".

Also in 2016, the United Kingdom said it would deploy the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth to the Pacific and conduct overflights with fighter aircraft. Seriously...? Do you guys really exist?

This declaration was issued by both parties during the Second Meeting of the Philippines-China Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) on the South China Sea hosted by Manila Tuesday.

But he stressed that it was important that along with the US, Britain and Australia also "assert our values" in the South China Sea.

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China has defied and refuses to comply with an global arbitration ruling that invalidated its claim to virtually all of the South China Sea on historical grounds.

Several other countries, including Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam, also lay claim to the South China Sea and the billions of dollars it offers in oil reserves and trade opportunities.

USA warships have previously drawn protests from Beijing by travelling within the 12-mile Chinese territorial waters around the islands.

Duterte was referring to the country's 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, a stretch of sea where coastal states have been granted exclusive rights to exploit natural resources under a 1982 United Nations treaty. After one such freedom of navigation operation last summer China said it was a "serious political and military provocation".

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"It's very important that we demonstrate that these are seas as anyone can pass through and we'll be making sure that the Royal Sea will protect those rights for worldwide shipping as she goes to do joint operations with the Japanese, the Koreans and the United States Navy".

"We've got to ensure that any form of malign intent is countered and we see increasing challenges - it's not just from China, it's from Russian Federation, it's from Iran - and we've got to be constantly making sure that our security measures, our critical national infrastructure is protected", he said. The US can only concentrate on so many things at once, " Mr Williamson added. Indeed, as I have observed previously, numerous inroads we have seen in Sino-Philippine ties under Duterte would have seemed unimaginable right before he took office, even if we have seen some of them tried by past Philippine leaders before him as well.

The worldwide waterway is at the centre of an global row between China, which has made territorial claims on islands in the area, and other nearby nations.

British officials first flagged the voyage six months ago. "If this happens, it would be really serious", Shi said.

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Ties between the Philippines and China have seen a turnaround since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office, as he pursued a more diplomatic approach to resolving the sea dispute while engaging the Chinese in closer trade ties.

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